5 Tips for successful Business WiFi

serveimage.png

We have all experienced terrible WiFi, whether in a motel, caravan park or at local café: but it doesn’t have to be that way.

 It’s a matter of knowing what your guests require to experience the best WiFi connection to the internet. Then either improving on what you are already using, or design a new network completely.

 SRF Strategies—Technology Solutions can assess your current set up, make recommendations, design an upgrade or new install and provide ongoing support for the wireless network.

1. Do what is right not what is easy

 Providing WiFi for your guests is just that—it’s for your guests, and should meet or even exceed their expectations.

What do guests want? They want to have Fast internet; Free Internet; and Easy to connect to Internet.

Looking for the cheap and easy way to install and provide WiFi to your guests, is often not the best for both the guest and the business.

 2. Plan the WiFi Channels

 Whether it’s a single router with its WiFi, or 20 WiFi Access Points, set the frequency channels to avoid Co-Channel Interference and Adjacent Channel Interference, both between your devices and what your close neighbours may be using.

For the 2.4GHz opt for using channels 1, 6, and 11

 3. 2.4GHz and 5GHz

 Most modern devices can connect to both 2.4GHz and 5GHz, so design your WiFi to provide both.

The problem with 2.4GHz is that it’s crowded and over-saturated. Devices everywhere use it: Microwave Ovens, Bluetooth, Cordless Phones, etc. These all produce interference.

There are more channels available in the 5GHz band, and it provides a smaller, tighter controlled coverage pattern.

Design for 5GHz coverage, and then turn off the excess 2.4Ghz radios.

 4. 20MHz Channel Width

With 2.4Ghz using 20MHz bandwidth is a given. But in 5GHz you can choose either 20, 40 or higher channel widths.

Best practice is to use 20MHz for the 5GHz band as well. The reasons are that many devices can’t use the 40MHz channels, and  it provides a stronger received signal strength to the user.

 5. SoHo vs Enterprise Gear

  I know we all like getting something for the cheapest price that gets the job done. But with business WiFi you need to avoid the Small Office/Home Office (SoHo) equipment and use enterprise class gear.

There is a huge difference between their capabilities—RAM, CPU, antennas and management software. As well as the SoHo gear being  generally built with cheaper, poorer quality electronics.

SoHo gear is designed for home and small office with a handful of devices connecting. But a motel, caravan park or large business is not a home environment and needs to be of a higher quality and functionality.

 Extra Tips

 · Place Access Points strategically

· Avoid Captive Portals

· Factor in building construction materials

· Why throttle bandwidth—download speed?

· Validate your WiFi network—use a professional to survey the site

· Separate networks for guests and management

 

 

 

 

Wireless Adaptor Upgrade

Just finished a simple upgrade of a computer's internal wireless adapter with a TP-Link AC1300 PCI Express Adapter.

The existing wireless adapter's drivers could not be updated to run properly on Windows 10, and so was beginning to not pick up all the WiFi SSIDs in its vicinity, and at times would completely drop the signal it was connected to. Time for an upgrade.

The only problem encountered with the install was that the computer wouldn't boot. Even after disabling the internal wireless card the computer still wouldn't start. So one person online suggested putting the new adapter into a different PCIe slot. Why you might ask? Something to do with the configuration of the mother-board, but it worked.

See the video below for a quick overview of the install.

5 simple ways to be more secure

Have you ever wondered, how can I make the computers I use at home and at work, more secure against attacks? With the ever increasing amount of Malware and Ransomware being thrown onto the internet, we must continually maintain a high level of awareness of how our networks are setup, the status of our backups, (do we have any, and if so, do they work?), and am I being Phished by the latest email or text message?

In the video below, I outline five simple ways we can all make our computer networks more secure against cybercrime, without too much effort or expense.

Securing your printer

securing your printer.jpg

We all use printers: at home or at work.

They come in various makes and models; some are basic, while others are a mini computer that does almost everything, except make coffee.

But how secure is your printer from being hacked by someone in a foreign country, or the young teen next door? Using the Internet of Things search engine, Shodan, a simple search for a brand of printer, like Fuji Xerox or Sharp, will yield thousands of results showing which of these printers are connected to the internet. Some are only accessible with a password, while there are many that are open via port 80 or 443, with your preferred web browser.

These images show how much information is available within an unsecured printer:

 

printer page1.png
snapshot.jpg

So why secure your printer?

  • It's often plugged into the network without changing the default settings
  • Security patches and new firmware are often rarely updated
  • Many printers are accessible from the internet
  • Printers are like mini computers and so can be hacked
  • If the printer is connected to the internet, it can be used by outsiders

What can a hacker do?

  • Launch a Denial of Service attack (DOS) and crash your printer
  • Use the printer as a platform to attack computers on your business network
  • Install Malware to give back-door-access
  • Store unauthorised data
  • Retrieve scanned and printed documents
  • Use this information to mount a Social Engineering attack against the business
  • Print objectionable material
  • Screw up the printers' settings

Recommendations

  • If you have a basic printer, add a configurable firewall
  • Implement recommended manufacturer's security features
  • Change the default password
  • If available use Access Control Lists (ACLs) to block unauthorised access
  • Remove the default Gateway from the printers IP configuration
  • Turn off unnecessary features, like FTP, Telnet and allowing external access with HTTP and HTTPs
  • Sensitive data? Encrypt the printer's hard drive and even encrypt all documents sent to it from computers
  • Update and patch regularly as required
  • If in a very small office, just plug the printer straight into the computer

Watch this video for more details

D-Link AC1900 versus Ubiquiti UAP-AC-M

My business is to consult and install various networking devices from Ubiquiti, and so I am all to aware of how much better and more configurable they are compared to the run of the mill routers that come with our ISP subscriptions. In my office, which is part of my home, we are connected to the internet through an older model D-Link AC1900 router. It’s between three and four years of age and has been generally a good replacement for the cheaper Netcom router provided when I connected to the NBN: more features and a better WiFi signal coverage. But is it as good as the Ubiquiti access points?

Unfortunately when I came to conduct this experiment I didn’t have a more suitable Ubiquiti Unifi Access Point on hand, so I have had to do it with a Unifi AC Mesh unit. There’s nothing wrong with this particular unit, other than its main function is to be link with one or more other units wirelessly, to give good WiFi coverage of open spaces: caravan parks, markets etc.

One major difference between the two access points being compared is the almost simple plug and play of the D-Link, compared to the time and knowledge it takes to “adopt” the UAP-AC-M into the Unifi Controller software running on my laptop. Again for this exercise I used a Unifi controller on a Windows laptop rather than a Ubiquiti Cloud Key or some other configuration.

I didn’t go into the details of setting up the UAP-AC-M on the controller, or show the huge range of possible configurations available, including VLANs, but if you are interested in knowing more please contact me. Also there are some really good YouTube videos done by Willie Howe at H5 Technology and Chris Sherwood of Crosstalk Solutions detailing a lot of information on the deploying of Ubiquiti devices.

comparisongraph.jpg

Network setup

 The network was set up with two WiFi access points, both broadcasting 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Using the WiFi Analyzer and Speedtest apps on my Android phone, I conducted both speed and signal strength tests at specific distances from the two access points: 2m, 13m and 25m (outdoors). The results are summarised in the table above.

Putting aside any technology differences between the two devices, and the fact that the UAP-AC-M is not designed to be just a standalone access point, the results show that there is little difference in upload and download speeds between them. The biggest difference is in the signal strength, and the ability of the UAP-AC-M to penetrate building walls etc.

When I have a Ubiquiti Unifi access point, such as a UAP-AC-Pro, then I will conduct this same exercise again.

For the complete run down on this exercise, please watch the video.